JAY'S PERSONAL COMMENTS:
It's REALLY AMAZING that I find a LOT of 1966-68 shows which sound better than a lot of the 1970's reel to reel-originated shows, and even a lot of the early PCM shows. NOTE: When PCM was first made available on the commercial market, it was only limited to 8 bit quality sound, and would only work with certain Sony BetaMax videocassette decks. As time and technology grew, the PCM units became easier to use, they would work will almost ANY VCR (be it VHS or the now-dying BetaMax formats)... and finally they were able to get 16-bit sound to work CORRECTLY around the mid-1980's.
But, a little known factoid about the sound quality: the Dead weren't always the ones who were setting up the RTR decks. The record companies were bringing in the Otari 2" 4 and 8 track decks which ran at a minimum of 15 i.p.s., and were able to be better calibrated to more brands and formulations of open reel tape. This is why a lot of these shows sound so pristine... but yet there were a lot of reel changes (when there weren't two RTR decks there... one to run, and the other on "standby" so that the recording could be started as the first deck began to run out of tape! So, this is why some shows literally have no gaps where the reels were changed!
It is my understanding that for this show, a single Otari 4 track 1" wide tape running at 7.5 i.p.s. was used. Some of the songs from this Fillmore run were going to be used as promos, and possibly as a live album early on. The record companies were REALLY hot on the Dead, and they wanted the Boyz to also try new songs to see how they would be received by the audience, as well as how they would sound live. Hence, "one-offs" like In The Pines, Cardboard Cowboy, were played, and then evaluated by the record companies.
The PCM archive tape is deteriorating, as can be heard in the left (vocals) channel (only). On very loud vocal peaks, you can just hear a very slight distortion. It's not really as bad as it look "in print", but it can be heard. Again, it's only during the loudest vocals, and not on any of the instruments (right channel). This is a problem inherent to ALL tape-based media, in that it will deteriorate over time. Thank goodness that the Vault is very regulated as far as it's climate, air quality and purity, and that a lot of shows are being re-archived onto non-tape-based media.
In The Pines and Cardboard Cowboy are FIRST / LAST / ONLY TIMES PLAYED songs. In The Pines is good, a song of sorrow. But Cardboard Cowboy, I can live without. It just doesn't "make it" with me. Other people like it, maybe because it's very rare to hear a good quality copy of it, or to even hear it at all, or just because it's a Dead song... who knows?!?!?
The entire show had an "energy" to it, but not a very high level. There weren't any real between-song lulls like we've come to expect, and sometimes it can be heard when the guitars are slightly out of tune (and adjusted during the songs). Bobby is pretty prominent in the mix, Pig's organ is really present (no dirty jokes, please!), but Jerry's guitar, depending on the song and how attentive the engineers were at any point in time, was either present, low volume (being picked up by the other instrument microphones nearby, or "invisible" for very short periods of time. It never ceases to amaze me that audio engineers, especially with the Dead and the Fillmore's own crew, who were excellent most of the time, could be so ignorant of the fact that things weren't right! But, that just makes the show all that much more interesting, I would imagine!
This is the ENTIRE show... all songs are included, so you get the "feel" of how